The UFC makes its first Brazilian outing of 2019 this Saturday night as a host of top Brazilian contenders battle it out.
With a title eliminator rematch between bantamweights Raphael Assuncao and Marlon Moraes in the main event, the headline bout is supported by legends of the sport Jose Aldo and Demian Maia who take on rising prospects Renato Moicano and Lyman Good respectively.
UFC: Fortaleza will also showcase fun lightweight and welterweight bouts in Charles Oliveira vs. David Teymur and Thiago Alves vs. Max Griffin while light heavyweight Johnny Walker will look to back up an impressive promotional debut knockout against Justin Ledet.
Raphael Assuncao (27-5) vs. Marlon Moraes (21-5-1)
Assuncao can probably feel hard done by to have not had a title shot with his resume but here we are.
With a 12-fight UFC career at bantamweight, Assuncao has only lost one of those bouts and that was to current champion TJ Dillashaw. Employing a low output yet controlling style, Assuncao has managed to dictate his type of fight onto the vast majority of his opponents and he did so in his first meeting with Moraes.
Moraes meanwhile tends to be much more explosive and dynamic in his striking and has the grappling accumen to hold his own on the mat.
Much like their first outing, one which I thought Moraes should have got the nod in, I expect this to be closely contested bout as they are evenly matched fighters at an elite level.
What I do think this fight will boil down to however is Moraes’ experience over 25-minutes. While this will be Assuncao’s first time in a five-round fight, Moraes has gone the distance twice as WSOF champion. Add in Assuncao’s tendency to slow down in a three-rounder and I think Moraes will be able to find his better work on the feet later on.
Pick: Marlon Moraes
Jose Aldo (27-4) vs. Renato Moicano (13-1-1)
This is a brilliant fight between legend and prospect.
Moicano has looked exceptional since defeating Jeremy Stephens and his long striking game has developed to such a great level that it’s hard to tell that he is primarily a submission artist.
The legend that is Jose Aldo meanwhile snapped back-to-back losses to Max Holloway in his last outing as a vicious body shot crumpled Jeremy Stephens and offered a glimpse into the past that saw Aldo destory everyone in his path.
This is such a tough fight to pick as Aldo’s career is set to wind down and we’re not quite sure how he stacks up against the top 3 in the division. Add in Moicano’s rangy style is somewhat reminiscent of Max Holloway and you’d certainly be forgiven for pause at how Aldo will fare here.
With that being said, I think Aldo’s boxing, in particular his counters through fakes, will be a decisive factor and allow him to get the better of the proceedings on the feet.
Pick: Jose Aldo
Demian Maia (25-9) vs. Lyman Good (20-4, 1 NC)
Good has seemingly hit another gear since joining the UFC in 2015 and his heavy hitting striking has seen him knock out both Andrew Craig and Ben Saunders. With a big physical presence and athleticism, Good will no doubt look to keep this fight standing while Maia will look for his brilliant jiu-jitsu game.
While this fight can be boiled down to its nth degree, it is a trademark striker vs. grappler bout and one which I think Maia’s experience will allow him to ground the fight and find a a submission.
Pick: Demian Maia
Charles Oliveira (25-8, 1 NC) vs. David Teymur (8-1)
Much like the Maia – Good fight, this can be redcued to grappler vs. striker although Oliveira has shown some good Muay Thai in his UFC career.
Oliveira has shown a tendency to tire later in his fights so Teymur will have to keep his range and try to take the fight into its later stages.
The Brazilian however looks to be in dominant form and I think in front of a supportive crowd he will continue his impressive record at lightweight.
Pick: Charles Oliveira
Johnny Walker (15-3) vs. Justin Ledet (9-1, 1 NC)
Walker is seemingly a monstrous hitter at light heavyweight and his clinch work against Khalil Rountree was simply terrifying.
I haven’t seen anything of the same level from Ledet thus far so I’ll have to side with another destructive Walker performance.
Pick: Johnny Walker
Livinha Souza (12-1) vs. Sarah Frota (9-0)
Sarah Frota missed weight by eight pounds for this fight and while the fighter missing weight tends to have an advantage come fight night, Frota seemed to be in a tough way.
Souza is already a talented fighter but I think Frota’s struggle to make weight will only bouy Souza.
Pick: Livinha Souza
(Last Predictions: 4/6, Total: 4/6, 67% Success Rate)
(2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58% Success Rate)